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With the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic and the first lockdown in the UK taking place on 23rd March, April saw the largest decrease in claims volumes with numbers down by 70%; with the advent of home working the normal commuter rush hour has been impacted resulting in fewer collisions. This change in claims volume was similar to the reported decrease of all motor traffic levels to 25%, in the same period, as published by the Department of Transport; but how did this compare the second and most recent nationwide lockdown?
In the November lockdown, we experienced a 10% decrease in motor claims volume. The 60% difference in monthly motor claims volumes between the two nationwide lockdowns evidences an increase of drivers on the roads during the second lockdown. This is due to a combination of laxer restrictions and potentially the public’s lessening patience regarding the virus compared with the panic of initially learning of the pandemic in March. Due to restrictions in lockdown one, motorways were much quieter as drivers chose to stay local if they travelled at all, whilst during lockdown two, the impact on motorway traffic was equal to that of localised traffic and much smaller in the whole. S&G Response are tracking new referrals geographically and have so far see no impact of the tiering system on motor incident frequencies.
As shared by the ‘AA’, although traffic dropped during the initial lockdown, there was however, an increase in the percentage of drivers choosing to speed which is likely why the change in claims volumes was not as large as the change in traffic volumes, as emptier roads give rise to higher velocity accidents.
As a direct impact of lockdown, without a doubt, industry relationships are closer. We have been sharing more information than ever as we are all interconnected and during these unprecedented times, it is more important than ever to share what we know and be transparent. Sean Harper, Supply Chain Manager commented ‘We shared data and insights on a level that we would have all thought impossible in February. We all needed each other before Covid-19, but we tended to focus on what divided us, or what we disagreed about. As an industry we have since recognised that we were part of one eco-system and had to work together. Yes, insurers, third party administrators, and repairers all have different agendas and different commercial objectives, but we all need each other. Our already strong relationships with repairers have strengthened in a “blitz like spirit” of working together through the pandemic. The collaboration of all parties previously working independently somewhat has been fantastic.’
Vehicle technology and societal change are viewed hand in hand in our sector. Take the impact of Covid-19 and the trend of home-working – how many families will be reviewing their two-car model? Will one car suffice if there is no need for a daily commute and what will that do to accident frequencies?
The first lockdown of the year and the more recent November lockdown have both impacted upon public behaviours and our industry in a multitude of ways. Interestingly, the influence of the changing rules from lockdown to lockdown on lifestyle and routine and how this affected the volume of incidents between certain hours of the day can be seen in Figure 2.
Despite the decrease in traffic and motor incidents, the percentage split over the times motor incidents occurred during the first lockdown followed, in the main, the same pattern as the pre-covid incident times, as did the period between lockdowns follow the same pattern. The most notable change, however, came surprisingly not from lockdown one but from the second; with the percentage of motor incidents in each hour period lowering by around 1%, but as seen in Figure 2, large spikes arise between the hours of 10am and 12 pm and again between 2pm and 4pm.
Changes to the rules for the second lockdown including allowing schools to remain open is an important contributor to accident frequencies; it is clear from the lockdown two incident times that this then became one of the largest contributors to motor incidents taking place outside of usual rush hours, as traffic density around localised areas pertaining to schools increased. Perhaps with some members of the public being placed on furlough or homeworking it has gave way to more opportunities for them to pick up their children from school as opposed to children using other modes of transport such as school busses, which is likely much less preferred due to social distancing.
Figure 3 shows accident times from all motor claims in 2020, but with the removal of motor incident claims referring to light alloy wheel damage. This demonstrates that the spikes in incident times from Figure 2 were caused by motor incidents that resulted in light damage and thus were low velocity.
Curiously, the largest spike from 10am – 12pm for light damage to alloy wheels during lockdown two, is in the most part unexplained. As a general idea it could be assumed the increased incidents in this time period come from socialising outdoors; it is possible that more people are driving to meet up when compared with the previous lockdown due to outdoor socialising being permitted in addition to bubble socialising which did not exist at the beginning of lockdown one. Alternatively, it could be that people are getting more use of their lunch break as an opportunity to get in the weekly shop or head for a drive through with more people working from home.
The Covid-19 Pandemic, all in all has impacted on all areas of the industry, all manners of processes and even driver behaviours and thus altering claims volumes and incident times at a rate never previously witnessed. S&G Response endeavours to use their in-house database to stay informed and in turn share obtained insights with the industry.